The Deltoid Lift: A Comparison Study of Exposure Area in Proximal Humeral Approaches

Michael Ting*, Nicholas Kusnezov, John Dunn, Alok K. Dwivedi, Miguel A. Pirela-Cruz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: Adequate exposure of the proximal humerus is necessary to address atypical or complex proximal humerus fractures and orthopedic tumors. Surgical management may be difficult through existing approaches due to their limited nature and the delicate neurovascular anatomy of the shoulder. The deltoid lift, a previously described extensile approach, can be incorporated into the surgeon’s armamentarium as an alternative exposure to the proximal humerus. The objective of this study was to quantify and compare the humeral exposure achieved through the deltoid lift with the standard direct lateral deltoid-splitting, anterolateral acromial, and deltopectoral approaches in terms of surface area and exposure of key anatomic landmarks. Methods: Each approach was performed a minimum of 8 times on 18 cadaveric specimens. After identifying landmarks, exposure area of exposed humerus was quantified using digital images and ImageJ software. Results: The deltoid lift yielded an average exposure area of 46 cm2. Comparison of the exposure area for the deltoid lift against each of the other approaches yielded statistical significance (P <.01). The exposure provided was 2-folds greater than that of the next most extensive approach. All anatomic landmarks were directly visible through the deltoid lift as compared with the remaining approaches, through which only 1 landmark was directly visualized and only 2 of the 3 remaining were palpable through the approach. Conclusions: The deltoid lift extensile surgical exposure to the proximal humerus provides the largest humeral exposure with the greatest visibility of landmarks relative to the 3 most widely utilized standard approaches.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)401-407
Number of pages7
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • deltoid lift
  • orthopedic tumors
  • proximal humeral fractures
  • proximal humerus
  • surgical approaches


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